Windbreaks, screens and hedgerows on the Monaro and in the Snowy Mountains

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The most commonly asked questions, especially during winter and early spring, relate to screening plants and windbreaks, whether it be to block out prevailing cold winds, obscure neighbours or to provide a microclimate in the harsh environment of the Monaro and Snowy Mountains.

No garden or acreage is going to be perfect, however you can help mitigate problems associated with exposure, high wind areas, and privacy and help create a protected area which works for you.

The gorgeous leptosperumum grandifolium (mountain tea tree) is an excellent choice for a lower screen.

The gorgeous leptosperumum grandifolium (mountain tea tree) is an excellent choice for a lower screen.

There are lots of websites which explore in depth the idea behind microclimates and how to create one – this factsheet from the ABC is a great place to start.

For a lower screen you could choose a callistemon pallidus (lemon bottlebrush) or leptospermum grandifolium (mountain tea tree). These native shrubs will stay compact and have quite dense foliage and will make a good screen, especially if they are tip-pruned occasionally to encourage thicker growth. Both are flowering varieties so have the added benefit of being nectar producing plants which will attract bees and birdlife.

If you want something more ‘heavy duty’, you may want to consider some exotic varieties which will grow taller and thicker and be a good single row screen to block wind, dust, and noise and provide privacy. We stock some of the Cupressus cypress varieties such as Leylandii Leightons green and Castwellan Gold which are able to be hedged or will grow to about 10m. Another very good exotic screening plant is the photinia.

The photinia robusta is a hardy exotic alternative for hedgerows.

The photinia robusta is a hardy exotic alternative for hedgerows.

Growing to 6 metres the photinia provides an excellent barrier to dust and noise.

Growing to 6 metres the photinia provides an excellent barrier to dust and noise.

There are lots of varieties of this plant and some will grow to 5-6m, having red tipped foliage. We usually have a supply of these exotic plants just because they are tough, fast growing and do well in this challenging climate we live in. If you are interested in any of these, please contact us for more details.

You can of course, do a native windbreak which can look beautiful, and provide all the benefits mentioned previously. Native windbreaks and screens benefit from using a variety of trees, shrubs and understorey and ideally, be a lot wider to accommodate a greater cross section of plants.

Screens using natives require a mix of species to create a canopy and understorey.

Screens using natives require a mix of species to create a canopy and understorey.

A combination of natives for a screen will have the added benefit of attracting bees and birds.

A combination of natives for a screen will have the added benefit of attracting bees and birds.

If you want to use a mix of natives to get a natural looking screen, it is harder to achieve this with just one row. I’m sure you’ve seen a lonely row of gums grown with a tall canopy, and not really providing the protection you require. Natives will be healthier and happier if they are grown as a mixed species community, enjoying a symbiotic relationship with each other. (Wattles providing an initial canopy for understorey, understorey attracting bees, insects and birds. The latter two acting as natural predators to unwanted bugs such as the foliage eating Christmas beetle.

annie platts